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Miss Manners: How do I handle soccer naysayers?

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Every four years, my husband and I have hosted a large party for the World Cup. We save for four years so we can treat our friends, neighbors, teammates (we both play on adult leagues and coach as well) and their families to catered food, drinks and a bounce house for their children.

Watching it takes two hours, and it is fun to share the excitement with other soccer fans. However, past World Cup parties have been ruined for me by spouses of soccer fans who do not enjoy the original “football.”

One time, a lady constantly reported “skirmishes” between her 5-year-old and other kids and wanted me to intervene. Another time, a spouse complained about how much she hated soccer, grabbed one of my fashion magazines and wanted me to view and comment on photos with her during the game.

I spend hundreds of dollars planning this party and I wish I could be left to watch and enjoy it for two 45-minute halves with the rest of the group.

Is this asking too much, Miss Manners? Is there something I could put in the invitation to make it clear that the game is the reason for the party and that hosting duties will be suspended during the match?

GENTLE READER: You could provide a separate bounce house for people who make nuisances of themselves by sabotaging the terms of an engagement they have accepted. Or ask a game-averse friend to do substitute hosting while you watch.

But you could also include in the invitation the timing of both the overall party and the actual game (adding an hour or so before and after) and suggest that guests who do not enjoy watching come late or arrive early to socialize with you.

After that, Miss Manners is afraid you must take it on a case-by-case basis: “Oh, I’m so sorry, but I’m really enjoying watching the game. Perhaps we can talk about fashion afterward – or at an Oscar party.” If they are perceptive – and award-show enthusiasts – they will understand that they wouldn’t want you to talk sports while they are reviewing the red carpet.


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